How to Create Your Own Online Course: 100 Tools, Guides, and Resources

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Perhaps you have a special skill, talent, or knowledge-base that you want to share with others, and maybe you’ve heard that teaching online courses can make you a little extra money. The resources below will help you discover how to combine both what you have to offer and what you wish to gain by guiding you through creating and establishing an online course. No matter what age of student, subject you want to teach, or size of the class, you will find resources and information to bring your class online.

Learning Management Systems

Learning Management Systems host your online class and provide a place for students to receive and turn in assignments, class communication, and more.

  1. Moodle. This free and very popular course management system allows you to design a course for thousands or only a few students and gives access to creating forums, wikis, databases, and much more.
  2. Blackboard Learn . Blackboard is used by many institutes of higher learning, as well as other organizations, as a source of online classroom management.
  3. eLearningZoom. Take advantage of the free trial to see how this application works for education, organizations, and businesses.
  4. Nicenet’s Internet Classroom Assistant. Set up your course here and have access to conferencing, scheduling, document sharing, personal messaging, and link sharing.
  5. FlexTraining. This e-learning system offers a low-cost solution to providing online training and education. The home page also offers plenty of thinking-points for considering a learning management system.
  6. Backpack. While not specifically a learning management system, this app is great for organizing groups and sharing information–and is available at no charge for the basic services.
  7. OPEN Learning Management System. This open-source management system helps online teachers with course building as well as class management activities such as creating a syllabus, discussion forum, file uploader, a grade book, calendar, and more.
  8. Manhattan. This free system is run on Linux and is currently being used at many colleges and universities for their online education programs.
  9. ATutor. ATutor is an open-source web-based management system that is easy for administrators to install and easy for instructors to utilize.
  10. .LRN. .LRN was developed at MIT, is currently used in a wide range of educational settings, and is open-source.

Resources for Getting Your Class Online

Read these articles to find out everything from using a free blog to host your class to selecting and implementing a Learning Management System.

  1. How to Teach an Online Course using WordPress. This article clearly outlines how you can use a free WordPress blog to create a simple online class.
  2. How to Create Your Own Website to Support an On-line Course: tips, hints and practical information. If you want to design a website to support your online course, then check out this article that gives technical step-by-step directions.
  3. How to Set Up an Online Class Using WebCT 6. Find out how to set up your class with this Blackboard application.
  4. How to Write a Free Online Course to Promote Your Website. This article offers suggestions for creating an online course as a marketing tool.
  5. How to Create a SCORM Compliant Quiz. Learn to make quizzes that work seamlessly in your online environment and effectively measure student progress.
  6. Online classrooms for FREE?! A Review of Free Online Learning Management Systems (LMS). This article takes a look at several different free learning management systems and offers suggestions for ease-of-use and other criteria.
  7. White paper provides advice for implementing an LMS. This article offers a synopsis of a white paper that offers suggestions to get your LMS going with few problems and also includes where to access the white paper for free.
  8. Learning Management Systems (LMS). Find many resources to learn about the various LMS available and help you choose the right one for your online course.
  9. 7 Tips for Selecting a LMS. These seven tips will put novice online course developers at ease when considering an LMS.
  10. LMS 2.0: How to Select an Advanced Learning System. Read this white paper to learn what to consider when selecting a system for your course.

Resources for Developing Your Class

You may have plenty of great ideas for your class in your head, but you will need to translate those ideas into approachable tasks for the online environment. These resources will help you do that.

  1. Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning. Click through these selections offering advice and information on what a good online class should provide and how to create an online learning environment.
  2. SCORM Explained. Learn what SCORM is and why it may be important to your online learning environment.
  3. How to Develop Your Online Course. This article offers a wealth of information and points of consideration when developing an effective online course.
  4. Sloan-C Events. Many of the workshops listed here are perfect for learning how to set up your online course.
  5. E-CLASS: Creating a Guide to Online Course Development For Distance Learning Faculty. Written by a professor, this article offers an in-depth look at how you can start a distance learning class or program within an institute of higher learning.
  6. Develop Online Courses. This self-paced online course offers information that you may find helpful when first developing your online course.
  7. Nine Tips for Creating a Hybrid Course. If you will have students in a combination of face-to-face and online classes, this article offers plenty of suggestions.
  8. Planning online courses. While this class requires a fee to take, it teaches both new and experienced instructors how to get their course online.
  9. Writing online courses. Pay to take this class that brings together the best in teaching methods and technology to help you learn how to write a quality online course.
  10. Tips for Developing Media-rich Online Courses. From thinking about the learners’ perspective to providing regular feedback to content preparation, this article helps you create an engaging, media-rich class.

Resources for Teaching Online

Find plenty of suggestions to enhance your teaching skills and to learn about special issues for online teaching with these resources.

  1. How to Teach an Online Class. These steps provide plenty of information on various aspects of teaching, including creating a syllabus, creating lessons and tests, and student contact.
  2. How to Set Up an E-Course. The advice here provides helpful ways to ensure your online class goes smoothly with tips on welcoming students, setting up "office hours," and more.
  3. Online Courses – Tips for Making Them Work. This veteran online educator shares her experience and offers suggestions for creating an online educational environment that promotes student learning and satisfaction.
  4. Tips for Training Online Instructors. Whether you will be hiring someone to teach your online course or you will be doing it yourself, this article offers plenty of good advice on how to make sure the teacher is prepared and equipped to teach online.
  5. Six Tips for Students’ Online Success. This article offers advice for ways to acclimate students to an online learning environment after leaving a traditional classroom setting.
  6. Teaching Online: Tips and Advice. This site offers a listing of helpful resources that cover such topics as tips and opinions, teaching with technology, journals for teachers, and discussions.
  7. CTDLC: Teaching Tips. From the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, get links to information on what students want from online teachers to what students say about online assessment to preventing cheating in online classes.
  8. Teaching Tips Index. This site is full of resources that any teacher, online or in the classroom, can use and range from preparing lesson plans to creating a syllabus to using inclusive language.
  9. Tips and Tricks for Teaching Online. This resource includes help with everything from designing the online course to assessment ideas and even includes some Blackboard tutorials.
  10. Tips for Teaching Online. This article offers great advice for such aspects of online teaching as keeping the lines of communication open, coping with workload, and using discussion as a tool.
  11. Teaching Online: Tips and Tricks Part 1. From creating a sense of community to contact with the instructor, this article offers plenty of sound suggestions for making your online teaching experience a positive one.

How-to Videos

Watch these videos to get help with everything from creating your class in Moodle to using audio and visual media in your class to best teaching practices.

  1. How to Create an Online Course in Moodle!. This video shows how to get started creating your course with Moodle.
  2. How to Create an Online Course in Minutes. Using eLearningZoom, this video tutorial will walk you though the initial course set-up.
  3. Best Practices in Online Education. Learn how UMBC motivated and stimulated students in this 2-hour presentation on best practices.
  4. Second Life: NC State Classes Go Virtual!. Learn how two classes at NC State successfully incorporated Second Life into their structure.
  5. Narrative Forms in the Digital Classroom. Discover how this literature class at Vanderbilt University utilized online technology to teach students how to improve their critical thinking and composition skills.
  6. Opencast Project Open House at UC Berkeley. This 1 hour video presentation discusses using audio and visual media as a tool for learning, including online learning.
  7. Earth Internet Solutions. Watch this video to learn how Earth Internet Solutions can help you get your class online.
  8. Tips and Tricks for Teaching Math Online. Whether you are planning to teach math or not, this PowerPoint presentation offers great suggestions for keeping online students engaged.
  9. Teaching Excellence Workshop Session 4 – It’s Showtime!. Watch as these instructors discuss tools used to enhance their online teaching.

Resources from the Student’s Perspective

Good educators have the ability to put themselves in their students’ shoes in order to understand how best to reach them. These resources provide information about what makes a good online learning environment for students. Make sure your online classes provide plenty of these opportunities or even point your students to these links.

  1. How Students Develop Online Learning Skills. From online discussions to instructor techniques to connections with fellow students, you will find lots of information about how online students learn best.
  2. Tips for online courses. Texas A&M offers these tips to students taking online classes to ensure they get the most out of their experience.
  3. Survival Tips for On-line Courses. These ten tips offer sound advice for students in general as well as online students.
  4. The 7 Mistakes Distance Learners Make. Help ensure your students don’t make these mistakes while taking your online class.
  5. Study Tips for Distance Learners. These tips include suggestions such as "Check your email at least once a day" and "Demonstrate good communication skills."
  6. 7 Success Strategies for Distance Learners. These basics can apply to any student, but even more so for distance learners.

Creating Content

If you need help creating content for your class, check out these resources.

  1. OER Commons. Get free content for K-12, college-level classes, and other educational courses at this invaluable resource for online instructors creating their own courses.
  2. Quia. Access online text books; create educational games, quizzes, and other online activities; and get unlimited math questions that cover hundreds of topics.
  3. The Online Books Page. Find a free text for your class among over 35,000 available at this site.
  4. Open Courseware Consortium. Why reinvent the wheel when you have access to so many great classes already developed. Check out the open courseware classes on the subject you hope to teach and see about incorporating them into your class.
  5. Cool School. This Canadian company will develop dynamic content targeted for K-12 for your online lessons available for a fee.
  6. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. Browse through the many available resources here which include primary documents, photos, videos, and animation in subjects ranging from jazz to American literature to astronomy–and they are all free of charge.
  7. Biz/ed. This British site offers educational materials for students and educators in the fields of business, accounting, economics, travel and tourism, and sports and recreation.
  8. Mrs. Glosser’s Math Goodies. Find math lessons, worksheets, and more at this site.
  9. Distance Learning Center: Creating Online Content. The resources at this site from Community College of Allegheny County offer suggestions and links to places that will help you create content for your online class.
  10. Guide to Create Content. If you want to stream digital media for your online class, learn how to do so with this resource.
  11. Topmarks. Another British website, this one finds teaching resources and educational websites based on the criteria you select. They find content for early education through adult education in a variety of subjects.

Helpful Tools

Use these tools that range from catching plagiarism to reference materials to assistance with organization.

  1. CopyCatch. Find out if students are plagiarizing their work by using this application.
  2. Alphabetizer. Paste any list into this tool to immediately create an alphabetized list easily.
  3. Writeboard. Create online text documents that can be edited and shared with this tool that also integrates with Backpack.
  4. WordCounter. See if your students’ 1000 word papers are actually 1000 words with this online word counter tool.
  5. Google Alerts. Find new information on your research topics or ideas for new classes by receiving email updates on any topic through Google Alerts.
  6. Bartleby.com. Access several handy reference books for your own personal use or to encourage students to use.
  7. Connotea. Research is much easier with this tool, specifically designed for researchers, that manages online references.
  8. SiteTradr. Find out what sites educators are recommending with this tool that takes the worry out of Internet reading.
  9. Nozbe. Keep yourself organized with this application that allows you to keep to-do lists, manage class projects and tasks, get reminders, share with students, and even access from your mobile phone.
  10. Notely. Recommend this app to your students. Notely provides tools such as note-taking, a scheduler, homework planner, a calendar, and is made especially for students.

Collaboration Tools

These tools will help keep your online class connected through group projects, communication, and more.

  1. Zoho Show. Zoho Show helps students create awesome presentations that can also be shared with others.
  2. Campfire. Set up instant chat rooms with your class or study groups using Campfire and help facilitate communication between students.
  3. MeetWithApproval. Plan a virtual meeting with your students with this meeting planner.
  4. Thinkature. Students can collaborate with each other, organize thoughts and research, and prepare papers and projects with this tool.
  5. Wizlite. Students can use this tool to highlight any text online and share with others while working on group projects or collaborating on assignments.
  6. ProBoards. Create a discussion board easily and quickly so you can create an area for class collaboration.
  7. CiteULike. Share scholarly articles on the Internet or have students research them, then use this tool to store, organize, and share with ease from any browser.
  8. Google Calendar. Use this shareable calendar to keep track of assignments, tests, deadlines, meetings, and more while keeping the whole class informed.
  9. ThinkFold. ThinkFold allows groups to create interactive, real-time outlines collaboratively.
  10. Notefish. Students and instructors alike can save web content on Notefish notes, then organize and share notes with the class.
  11. PBwiki. Group collaboration is easy with this popular wiki platform.
  12. writewith. For writing projects, this app keeps students working together with shared documents and tasks, discussions, and more.

Distance Education Blogs

These blogs offer the latest information on distance education, including news and information for teaching and learning online. Stay on top of what is happening in the distance education world in order to keep your online courses on the leading edge.

  1. Virtual High School Meanderings. This blog looks at the many issues of distance learning, but with a specific eye on high-school online learning.
  2. California Dreamin’. Learn about course development, conferences on distance education, and much more with this blog.
  3. e-Learning Evangelist. Working in the world of e-learning since the mid-1990′s, this veteran online educator has plenty to share.
  4. My State of Flux. Find resources, reflections, and information about online learning in this blog.
  5. BestOnlineHighSchools.com. Find out what’s going on in the world of high school distance education by reading the information here.
  6. Teaching and Developing Online. This blog offers lots of advice and links to resources to enhance the online learning environment.
  7. Thoughts from BFE. The technology director from the only fully online high school program in the US blogs about technology as well as online learning in both high school and higher education.
  8. Online Learning Update. This news aggregator offers all the latest trends and developments in online learning.
  9. Inside eLearning by Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.. Find information on creating effective teaching tools such as effectively using visuals in papers and how to use statistics to support your research.
  10. Inspiration for Education. The news articles and interviews here offer uplifting stories that usually revolve around online education.
  11. Michelle’s Online Learning Freakout Party Zone. Get tips and resources to enhance your online learning environment with this blog.

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